I don't know what it is, but there's just something about scarecrow horror flicks that I love, no matter how bad they are. Unfortunately, most of 'em are pretty damn bad. The height of scarecrow horror peaked in most people's eyes with the first of its kind, 1981's Dark Night of the Scarecrow (read my review) and the sub-genre has since taken a serious nosedive with shit like 2004's Scarecrow Gone Wild. Between these two films, however, lie two fairly underrated gems, two gems that I revisited for myself this week in my efforts to hold myself over until I get my hands on the latest foray into killer scarecrows; After Dark Original's HUSK, opening this Friday in select cities. Before I get into those two films, check out the trailer for Husk, a film which I can only hope will be a return to kickass scarecrow horror.
If that looks up your alley and you too want to satiate your scarecrow cravings until you get to see it, either this weekend or once it hits wide on DVD on March 29th, then here are two scarecrow horror movies to tide you over, both of which you can currently watch instantly on Netflix!
After pulling off a major heist, a group of ex-military outlaws commandeer a plane for their getaway. But when one of the group betrays them by parachuting out with the cash, the rest follow -- and find themselves in the middle of a nightmare. They take shelter in an abandoned farmhouse set in a cornfield, where sinister scarecrows soon come to life and start taking them out one by one.
Gotta thank the now defunct Monsters HD for showing this 1988 foray into the world of killer scarecrows on what seemed like a constant loop one month, because I had never heard of it until I caught it on there. Unique to other scarecrow horror films of the time, Scarecrows has several killer scarecrows on the loose as opposed to just one, scarecrow/zombie hybrids who not only kill their victims and steal their organs and body parts, but also turn them into zombie-like killing machines. Can't beat that! Another unique thing about this one is that it's more or less two films rolled into one, with one half working as a well made heist film and the other as a gory scarecrow slasher flick, all while remaining throughout a solid character and story driven horror movie. As far as i'm concerned, it's the best movie of its kind that's been made to date, eclipsing even the uber atmospheric and highly effective Dark Night of the Scarecrow for me personally. It's a very unique film, one that manages to blend aspects of both the action films and the slasher films of the 80's into one dark ride that i'm quite frankly surprised more people haven't rode on and then subsequently raved about.
Something terrifying just came in from the field. An evil secret that a small town has hidden for generations. They thought it was buried forever, but the sins of their fathers have come back to haunt them ... and that's just the beginning. A monstrous demon has been set free - unspeakable, unstoppable and hellbent for revenge. Before the night is through the Scarecrow will sow the seeds of terror, then reap the grisly harvest in a bloodcurdling trail of death and decay that leads from the backwoods of horror to the bowels of hell. When the Scarecrow starts stalking, don't bother running ... there's nowhere to hide. Don't bother to scream ... there's no one to hear. Just pray the morning comes before the Scarecrow does.
Released in 1995 and directed by a post-Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 Jeff Burr, Night of the Scarecrow has never been put on DVD, which makes the fact that it's available on Netflix instant even cooler. Aside from snagging yourself a VHS copy, this is the only way you can see it as of now. Last night I actually found myself dusting off my trusty VCR and feeding my sun weathered VHS copy of Night into it, not realizing until this morning that it was available to watch on Netflix. In any event, Night of the Scarecrow plays out like a gorier version of the superior Dark Night of the Scarecrow, with more scarecrow action and more onscreen kills than that film, which it clearly drew huge inspiration from. Setting itself apart from that one and others like it that have come in their wake, the charismatic wise cracking scarecrow in this one has demonic powers which allow it to insert straw into its victims and turn them into human scarecrows, so to speak. In the most memorable scene in the film, the damn thing even rapes one of its female victims in the back of a van, forcing her to give birth soon after to all sorts of roots that drag her still alive self into the ground. It's a pretty corny film at times, while also possessing some pretty cool effects at other times, and it's one I definitely recommend to B-movie fans who love them some scarecrow horror. It doesn't hurt that Milton from Office Space is in it either!
As far as i've seen, these two and Dark Night of the Scarecrow are the best of the best when it comes to this particular sub-genre of horror. Will Husk rank alongside them or fall more on the side of Dark Harvest and Scarecrow Slayer? We shall soon find out!